During my junior year of high school, I attended a lecture and reading of the author Michael Ondaatje who is well-known for the book The English Patient. That night, he read from his book Anil’s Ghost which is a fictionalized account of a human rights’ worker in Sri Lanka who is responsible for identifying the murdered bodies and through forensics linking the person’s murder to the different factions of Sri Lanka’s civil war. During the summer, I wrote a feature-length screenplay adaptation of his book. Some of you may be familiar with the subject of Sri Lankan politics through the work and statements of the artist M.I.A. Accordingly, I am interested in issues of human rights and social justice.
I completed my undergraduate degree in philosophy with a film studies minor. During my junior and senior years, I tutored high school and middle school students as part of the program Volunteers in Public Schools. In conjunction with a course on adult literacy, I also tutored adult learners who were variously working toward earning their GED or mastering basic reading and math skills.
During the winter of my senior year, I participated in the theater department’s London Study Tour in which we spent 11 days in London taking in plays and getting a first-hand experience of the London theatrical culture. In addition to my cinephilia, I love theater and would welcome working with other students who have similar interests in performance.
Before applying to grad schools and committing to an academic track, I wanted to ensure that I was devoted to and comfortable with classroom teaching, so upon graduating I worked with AmeriCorps for a year. I primarily served in a classroom with at-risk high school students. Additionally, I coordinated volunteer activities for the students to fulfill their high school or probation requirements. I was part of a 12 member AmeriCorps team, so I really enjoy working in group settings where a variety of perspectives and backgrounds come together. I’m looking forward to the discussions and execution of ideas in this course.
During my AmeriCorps term, I was also taking Hindi courses at the local university as I was interested in teaching English abroad afterward. Upon completing my term, I left for Lahore, Pakistan where I spent the month of September 2010. While there, I considered a number of high school teaching positions and also interned at Aurat Foundation [aurat means woman in Urdu and Hindi]. My friend’s mother works at this organization whose mission is to advocate for women’s rights throughout Pakistan. They accomplish this by compiling annual reports on women’s issues, developing educational materials, coordinating awareness campaigns with other organizations, among other activities. At the time of my arrival, the country was in the middle of flood relief efforts in response to historically unprecedented flooding in the northern part of the country. Aurat Foundation and other organizations were supplementing the efforts that the government and the army were undertaking. This set of circumstances provided a unique opportunity for me to both observe and participate in the struggle to confront this momentous challenge. It was especially fascinating to watch the nightly newscasts that critically addressed issues of the management of aid funds and whether the efforts were reaching the appropriate groups of people.
During my time there, through interviewing for the various teaching positions, I began to realize that despite the wonderful experience of being there, I wasn’t going to be satisfied teaching English to high school students. I learned that it’s vital for me to be engaged fully in the content of what I teach, so I decided that this trip would be shorter than I had originally planned.
In October, I flew to New Delhi where I stayed with my Hindi instructor’s parents in Paschim Vihar. My two weeks there were more devoted to travel as I made trips to Agra, Jaipur, Amritsar, and the Wagah border which meets Pakistan. Fortunately, I was in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, so it was quite interesting to discuss with people, read in the papers, and watch the television reports about these games which bring together countries who all share the history of being former colonies of the British Empire or who had been, in some measure, administered by the British. Considering that this semester I’m preparing for the summer International Field Program in Hong Kong, this question of contested spaces has a political resonance for me. Additionally, there has been talk of renaming and reorienting the Occupy Movement to the Decolonize Movement, so I think these issues of civic media + tactical design are especially relevant and pressing in our global world which is full of contested spaces.
Below I’ve posted some of the media that I captured during my time in Amritsar, specifically at the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
At the following links, I’ve posted two videos that I filmed at the Wagah border and one that I filmed of the television broadcast of the Commonwealth Games.